Bill Introduced to Protect NJ Workers Who Refuse to Go Back to Work

Legislation has been introduced in the New Jersey Assembly that would permit certain employees to refuse to work due to unsafe working conditions during state of emergency or public health emergency.

The bill (A4268) provides that an employee who performs functions which involve physical proximity to other employees or members of the public, which are deemed essential by the public authority declaring the public health emergency or state of emergency, has the right to refuse to work under conditions that violate health and safety standards or jeopardize the health of the employee or members of the employee’s family either because the employer has not taken sufficient safety measures or because such measures are not feasible.

The bill exempts public safety workers and first responders such as police officers and firefighters, as well as certain healthcare workers.

The NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development would be required to develop standards by which to determine whether an employee’s decision to refuse to work onsite is reasonable. The bill lists several circumstances that would constitute a reasonable decision.

Employers would be prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who exercises their rights under the act.

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